This is the most important point – make it personal and make it different! Traditional food and food practices Traditional food choices usually depend on regional preferences.

About 30% of Indians are vegetarian.

Most of the cooking is done on the stovetop by steaming, boiling, sautéing, braising, or frying. Ovens are used less frequently



• North:
Punjabi cuisine typically represents foods of all the states north and west of Maharashtra. This is the most popular food in restaurants and is synonymous with Indian food globally: predominantly wheat-based bread (roti and naan), basmati rice for special pulaos (rice-based dishes that include vegetables and/or meat), and legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans. Dairy products such as paneer and yogurt, butter and ghee are used extensively.

• South:

This is primarily a rice-eating region. A variety of dhals (a thick soup made from lentils or other legumes) and vegetables are popular. Both rice and dhals are served in a number of ways: pounded, ground, fermented, boiled and steamed. Coconut is used in cooking. Dairy is mainly in the form of plain, unsweetened yogurt.

Common Ingredients

• Chicken and goat meat are popular all over India, depending on affordability. Beef is consumed only by Christians and Muslims, and pork by Christians only. Meat is not usually eaten every day of the week. Fish is popular in coastal areas.


• Fruits are usually consumed fresh.

• Desserts made from milk, sugar, rice or dhals, using ghee, nuts, and spices such as cardamom, are common only on special occasions.

• Ghee may be served with rice as a flavor enhancer.

• Sesame, peanut and other vegetable oils are generally used in cooking.

• Pickles and pappadams (crispy wafers) are often used as accompaniments.

• Water is served with meals. ‘Milky’ coffee and tea with sugar are also consumed – Masala Chai is a favorite all-time hot drink, enjoyed all day.

• Spices used include coriander seeds, asafoetida, cumin seeds, fenugreek, ginger, pepper, chili, garlic, turmeric, saffron, and cardamom.



Religion and religious festivals in all groups in India play a major role in food avoidances or inclusions.


Traditional meals and snacks 




Cereal, toast, rice-based traditional dishes, roti, and juice are consumed for breakfast.


Main and other meals

Rice or roti (dry, pan-fried flatbread) with dhals, chicken or fish curry (or vegetarian meals for some communities) are eaten most days.


Fruit and vegetables - Vegetables include okra, a variety of gourds, eggplant, snake beans, various leaves (similar to spinach), chocos, tapioca/cassava, drumsticks (long beans and leaves from a tree grown in the South of India), green adzuki beans in the pod and herbs (e.g. curry leaves).

Fruits include mangoes, tamarinds, bananas, papayas, sapodillas and imported temperate fruits such as apples and grapes.

Snacks in India - all time favorite is of course, samosas. 


Peanuts, cashews, and corn chips are also popular.

Other common snacks are listed below:

• Chips Banana, tapioca, jackfruit and potato (thin slices, deep fried)

• Sev, Chewda, Bhujia - All deep-fried snacks (chickpea flour base with spices; different shapes and thicknesses)  

• Murukku Deep-fried savory snack made from rice, lentils, and spices 

• Vada Deep-fried savory snack made from lentils and spices Mixture Deep-fried chickpea flour with nuts 

• Samosas Deep-fried pastry filled with potatoes, or other vegetables or meat Bonda Deep-fried potatoes in chickpea batter 

• Pakoda Deep-fried onions or cashew nuts with chickpea batter


 Common traditional foods Indian bread 

• Roti/chapatti made from whole wheat flour (atta) and water

• Roti is cooked on a dry griddle. They are commonly eaten at breakfast and main meals. Wheat flour is often purchased in 5 or 10 kg bags. • Puri, made from wheat flour, water, ghee, and oil

• Puri is deep fried and served with potato masala (curry made with potatoes) or chole (chickpea curry) and/or chutney. • Paratha, made from whole wheat flour (atta), oil, butter/oil for frying and salt

• Paratha is made from layers of dough brushed with ghee or cooking oil and cooked on a griddle.

• Dosa, made from rice, lentils, salt and a small amount of oil • Dosa is crepe-like bread that is dry fried and served with a variety of items (curry, dhal, chutney, etc.) 

• Naan, made from white flour, yeast, milk, egg, yogurt, oil and salt. The dough is baked onto the side of a hot, dome-shaped clay oven, referred to as a tandoor.

Indian Rice

Rice types vary greatly in their glycaemic indices and amounts of fiber; e.g. red rice is eaten by people from Southern India and is higher in fiber and protein than white rice. In Australia, basmati rice is used quite extensively. Jasmine rice is seldom consumed. Rice is often purchased in bulk from specialty Indian food stores. 

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